Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Canada yet to ban export of deadly fiber to India but has been forced to list white asbestos as hazardous substance

Press Statement

Canada yet to ban export of deadly fiber to India but has been forced to list white asbestos as hazardous substance

India must stop procurement of asbestos from China, Canada, Russia, Zimbabwe & Kazakhstan

Ministries of Commerce and Rural Development must learn from Ministries of Labor, Chemicals, Environment, Health, Mines and Railways who are for phase out of asbestos

New Delhi, 18/9/2012: After Canadian government’s announcement that it will stop objecting to the listing of chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) as a dangerous material under the U.N.’s Rotterdam Convention on exports of hazardous materials, Government of India and the State Governments are under an ethical and logical obligation, backed by indisputable scientific and medical evidence, to close down asbestos industry and stop the construction of asbestos plants in Bihar, Odisha and elsewhere in the country to protect the health of citizens, workers and their families. Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) and ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) welcome the Canadian announcement and encourages it to stop continued exports of Canadian asbestos to countries like India.

Canadian Industry Minister Christian Paradis announced that the Canadian government will no longer oppose global rules that restrict use and shipment of the substance and promised to invest up to $50 million to help the country's last remaining asbestos mining region, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, to diversify into other areas of activity. This movement towards asbestos free activity is a result of the political isolation being faced by the ruling Conservative Party which had previously blocked the chrysotile form of asbestos from being listed under the convention on three occasions, most recently at a summit in 2011 in Switzerland. The convention requires consensus of its members to list a substance; five other forms of asbestos are already listed as hazardous. The announcement was made on September 14, 2012.

This decision of the Canadian government after the meeting of John Baird, Foreign Minister of Canada with SM Krishna, Union Minister of External Affairs on September 12, 2012 assumes significance given the fact that it happened in the context of bilateral framework agreements like the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and the Social Security Agreement besides agreements for mining etc. Earlier, it had emerged that Union Ministry of Commerce is unable to resist asbestos industry’s influence in public interest and desist from signing the "Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement" (CEPA) with Canada that allows the export of cancer causing Canadian asbestos to India. The New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada, the official Opposition party has revealed the efforts of Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper government to eliminate trade tariffs on exports of lethal Canadian asbestos to India. “It is a disgrace that the Harper government has opposed the global effort to ban this substance,” NDP said in a release dated December 5, 2011.

Disregarding the regressive influence of asbestos producers like Canada, China, Russia, Zimbabwe and Kazakhstan, Indian government should act to make South Asia and the India-Brazil- South Africa (IBSA) region countries asbestos free. Notably, South Africa has already banned asbestos and several States in Brazil too have banned it.

BANI and TWA recognize that Canadian government was forced by Quebec premier-elect Pauline Marois who has vowed to cancel a $58-million loan guarantee offered by the previous government to revive Canada’s only remaining asbestos mine which has created victims in the developing world countries.

Under the changed political situation, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is scheduled to visit India in November 2012 has now agreed to join global consensus that considers asbestos as a hazardous substance. In any case in the last UN meeting of Rotterdam Convention after India disassociated itself from Canadian government, it was facing isolation and belittling its own stature among the comity of nations through its hypocrisy on asbestos.

It is about time Indian government banned the domestic uses of asbestos and invested in removal of asbestos from public buildings such as legislative buildings, hospitals, schools, homes and workplaces.

The global public opinion and the domestic opinion is against asbestos business creating a political compulsion for both in Canada and India to read the red signal for the end of the chrysotile business and for prohibiting its import and export.

Unsuspecting citizens and workers in India have been forced to work with this hazardous substance whose dangers have been kept hidden from them.

The next logical step for Canada is to provide household income to victims of Canadian asbestos in India because it continued to export in full knowledge that it is likely to cause incurable lung diseases. Central and State Governments in India are also under a legal obligation to ensure that both occupational and non-occupational victims of asbestos exposure get legal and medical remedy.

More than 50 countries have banned production, use, manufacture and trade of the hazardous mineral fiber, ASBESTOS. These countries are: Algeria, Czech Republic, Iceland, Malta, Seychelles, Argentina, Denmark, Ireland, Mozambique, Slovakia, Australia, Egypt, Israel, Netherlands, Slovenia, Austria, Estonia, Italy, New Caledonia, South Africa, Bahrain, Finland, Japan, Norway, Spain, Belgium, France, Jordan, Oman, Sweden, Brunei, Gabon, South Korea, Poland, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Germany, Kuwait, Portugal, Turkey, Chile, Greece, Latvia, Qatar, United Kingdom, Croatia, Honduras, Lithuania, Romania, Uruguay, Cyprus, Hungary, Luxembourg and Saudi Arabia. All the 27 countries of European Union have banned it.

Meanwhile, villagers’ protest against asbestos factories in Bihar’s Bhojpur and Vaishali and Odisha’s Bargarh district is continuing seeking stoppage of asbestos factories.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)-ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660 Web:

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